How to Promote Discovery of Quality Reads: the Awesome Indies Model

With the tsunami of self-published books, variously estimated at one to two million titles/year or more, finding a really good read has become a titanic enterprise. 

How do you separate the wheat from the chaff? 

Award-winning author Tahlia Newland who writes magical realism and contemporary fantasy has come up with what looks like a very good answer. She founded an evaluation site, Awesome Indies (to visit, click here), putting together a group of professional reviewers who are tasked with using unassailable review criteria and a clear 5-star rating system to present on the site a list of "AIA-approved" self-published books deemed to be of the same quality of craftsmanship as books published by mainstream publishing houses.

Brilliant, the idea to adopt the standard set by mainstream publishing houses...No doubt, an excellent model of book discovery as long as the site maintains intact two aspects: the excellence/respectability of its reviewers and the correct use of review criteria. 

The site is new and its Alexa ranking is still relatively modest (my own blog is better!) but it is rising fast and has all the right features: it engages men and women about equally, it attracts a college-educated population and is read at home as well as in the office, the "bounce rate" (people leaving without reading a page) is satisfyingly low, the number of daily pageviews and time spent on the site is rising fast and its audience is very global, only about half of the visitors are American (see here). 

How does Awsome Indies work? 

Simple, you have to submit your book to them with a 4 or 5 star review either using one you received from their own vetted and trusted list of reviewers (the list is on the Awsome Indies site and you can contact them for a review of your book) OR from someone who is deemed to be professional in the publishing industry (in that case, along with the review you must submit a cv of your reviewer). 

Author Tahlia Newland
They will NOT accept reviews from people or site who get paid, eg. Kirkus Reviews. That is particularly important as any professional writer knows and in the case of Kirkus, it makes a lot of sense: their reviews of Indie books are disappointingly  unprofessional and do not follow the review criteria that Awesome Indies requires and which are basically standard for good fiction writing. To see those criteria, click here.

Recently, Tales from the Reading Room posted an interesting interview of Awsome Indies founder, Tahlia Newland, see here.

I haven't yet submitted one of my books to them but it is certainly something I mean to do. Has anyone of you done so? What was your experience? Do you know of any other book evaluation site based on this model? Any opinion about what works to promote book discoverability?